The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth approached Southwestern Youth Services, Inc. in November 2014 about establishing a Freestanding Multi-Disciplinary Team (FSMDT) in Altus. The purpose of a FSMDT is to establish protocols for investigating child sexual abuse and child physical abuse or neglect cases and also for interviewing child victims. The protocol is to ensure coordination and cooperation between agencies involved, in hopes of increasing efficiency in handling cases, along with minimizing the stress created for the child by the investigation and subsequent court proceedings.
The need for a FSMDT in Altus is high. Child abuse and neglect has been identified as an unmet need on the Jackson County Community Health Alliance – Community Needs Survey earlier this year.
Southwestern Youth Services, Inc. reached out to other area agencies about the formation of a FSMDT and the response was great. The first meeting was held in January 2015 and has continued to grow. Core team members include members of the Altus Police Department, Southwestern Youth Services, Inc. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson County Department of Human Services, Jackson County District Attorney, Dr. Lindsey King of Jackson County Memorial Hospital, Hope Ross of Victim Advocate Services, Red Rock Mental Health Services and Youth Care of Oklahoma. General Team members include Wayland Baptist University, Altus Public Schools and Jackson County Health Department.
Naming the team was easy. Most everyone on the team had some kind of contact with Stephen E. Booker, former Jackson County Assistant DA, who recently lost his battle to cancer. Booker was well known for the work he did on behalf of children. According to sources, prior to passing away, Booker was asked if the team could be named in his honor. The request brought tears to his eyes and he was overwhelmed to know he had such an impact on the area he was proud to serve.
Pictured with the team is Robin Booker (front), Booker’s wife, who stood on his behalf in honor of having the team named in his memory. The Stephen E. Booker Child Abuse Response Team is still in its infancy but has the lofty goal of growing into to a Child Advocacy Center.
Those who are interested in learning more about the Stephen E. Booker CART can contact Jeanne Brandon of Southwestern Youth Services, Inc. at 580-482-2809.